Fortuigence Writing – A Review

One of the biggest challenges for me as I guide my children in their educational journey is writing. Writing is a powerful tool in communication and I desire for my children to thrive in this area. My oldest daughter loves to write and rarely turns down the opportunity to fine tune her skill. When I presented her with the opportunity to review a course from Fortuigence she did not hesitate. The hardest part was which of the four courses she wanted to complete. She finally settled on the Essay Rock Star: Expository Essay Writing Course.

Fortuigence is an online writing program started by Lily Iatridis. A former teacher in the traditional school setting, Mrs. Iatridis decided to take her skills in teaching writing to a broader audience. The online courses are well suited for middle school to high school levels of learning. The focus of Fortuigence writing courses are on mastery. With mastery as the goal, students can set their own pace as they work through the course.

Fortuigence offers four different Essay Rock Star courses:

  1. Essay Rock Star: Personal Statement
  2. Essay Rock Star: The Persuasive Essay
  3. Essay Rock Star: The Expository Essay
  4. Essay Rock Star: The Textual Analysis

Each Essay Rock Star course is available for $57.00.

Essay Rock Star: The Expository Essay

The Expository Essay writing course teaches  one of the most common essays. From high school to the workplace, this form of writing is used to explain or inform about a certain topic or subject. This course walks your student through the various methods that can be used within the essay to express her views. Once your student has covered these different methods, it is her choice on which method works best for her topic.

The presentation of this course is very simple. My daughter logged in and began watching the first lesson. Within this course, there are seven lessons and each lesson has a series of assignments. The assignments are broken down so the tasks of writing an essay is not overwhelming.  There are videos to watch for each lesson. The information covered in the video is also available to read. This is a plus for students who have different learning styles.

The first assignment my daughter had to complete was turning in a piece of her writing. For her this was a very simple task. There is no shortage of writing for her! Seeing a piece of writing from my daughter, allowed Mrs.Iatridis to gauge at what level my daughter was already writing. This really aids in keeping expectations of the student realistic.

Once the writing sample was received, Bekah began with the rest of the course. She watched the lessons, completed the assignments and submitted them online. Within twenty-four hours, Mrs. Iatridis would respond with corrections, edits, or the thumbs up to move ahead. This course is self-paced so Bekah had all the time she needed to complete each assignment.

Thoughts on Essay Rock Star: The Expository Essay

Through the Essay Rock Star series, Fortuigence is offering a valuable resource to homeschool families. For the parent, like me, who struggles with teaching and critiquing writing, having another person evaluating the writing is huge! With a self-motivated student, writing instruction was completely independent of me. Bekah handled all aspects of the course on her own. Even when she missed a step in submitting her work, she handled correcting it and communication with the teacher.

For the parent of a child who is not self-motivated, the parent would definitely have to take a more active role. With the self-pacing of the course, no due dates or deadlines, the unmotivated student could just stall out and not progress. The key is knowing your student and implementing whatever guidelines that were needed to make the course work in your home.

Since Bekah used this course independently, I felt it was important to share her thoughts/experience with the Expository Essay course. From Bekah:

The lessons were very easy to understand. I like being able to read over the information again after watching the videos. Submitting the assignments was easy and it was helpful to have links to example papers and such. You can’t move on until the teacher allows you to which I think is a good thing.

I don’t feel like I received helpful feedback on my writing. Maybe it was because I knew what I was doing from other writing courses I had taken? I didn’t like how there wasn’t a deadline. Not having a deadline makes it seem like it isn’t important to get the work done. Honestly, if this wasn’t a review, I might not have worked so hard to do the assignments. It would be very easy to not work on it since the parent doesn’t have to check it and the teacher doesn’t give a deadline.


Final Thoughts:

Overall, I think the Essay Rock Star: Expository Essay course is a valuable resource. I think the key is knowing your student and how to make the course work for you. With an independent, motivated student, this course will flow well.  If you have a student not quite as motivated, then you can easily set time requirements or goals.  Using this course with other children in our home, I would definitely be a bit more involved in tracking progress.

See how other Crew members used Essay Rock Star!

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Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive ~ A Review

Sometimes in the busyness of homeschool life, we discover that we may be overlooking important aspects of educating our children. Things that are important to us, that we see as essential but for various reasons we have overlooked. In our home, that has been instruction and guidance in cursive handwriting. I was thrilled when I was asked to review Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive Complete Set from Logic of English. I love this company!

Last year I was able to use Logic of English’s Essentials program with my children. It has made an amazing difference for two of my children. I was eager to see if the Rhythm of Handwriting would produce similar results.

What is Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive?

Logic of English supports the idea of teaching young children cursive before teaching them manuscript. One of the main reasons is because the “flow” of the cursive is easier for the fine motor abilities of young children. With this principle in mind, Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive can be used by ages 4 to adult. It provides simple, straight forward instruction that utilizes multi-sensory activities.

For this review I was sent the Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive Complete Set.This set included: Cursive Workbook, Cursive Quick Reference Chart, Cursive Tactile Cards, and Student Whiteboard.

Cursive Workbook – The student workbook also serves as the instructional guide for cursive. The workbook begins with information for the parent/teacher or mature student on how the program works.  A suggested schedule is given for students ages six and under; this has them learning one letter per day. For students 7 and up, there are three suggested schedules given depending on your students interest and ability.

Instruction begins with lowercase letters broken down by stroke style. You will begin with swing letters ( i, t, u, etc.) and progress through the other strokes (curve, loop, and bump). After completing a certain amount of letters, your student will then practice connecting letters to form words. For example, after completing the swing and curve strokes, you child will spend a few days practicing words such as: dad, tip, sap, quit. Once lowercase letters are completed, you naturally progress on to uppercase letters.

In the workbook, various sized lines are given for practice. This works well since often younger children write larger. It also provides the opportunity for future practice as the child matures in fine motor skills.  There is a practice sheet for each letter and then additional sheets for practicing all the letters in a stroke section. If you find that your child needs more practice or a bit different style of lined paper, Logic of English provides handwriting sheets for download in their free resource section.

Cursive Quick Reference Chart – This is a colorful, laminated folder style chart that can be used to refresh your student’s mind on how a letter is formed. It shows each letter along with an explanation on how it is properly formed. It also reviews the different strokes and connection lines used in cursive.

Cursive Tactile Cards – These cards are printed on heavy duty, coated cardstock that provides excellent durability. There is a card for each lowercase letter, uppercase letter, and numerals as well. The “sandpaper” style of the letters are great for those students who need to feel how the letter is formed. Instructions on how to form the letter, the sound of the phonogram, and an example word are all on the back of the cards for easy teacher reference.

Student Whiteboard – The student whiteboard is 11″ x16″ and double sided. One side has a very large three lined area for handwriting practice. The other side provides five lines for handwriting practice.

How Did We Use Rhythm of Handwriting?

My main focus was working with my 10 and 8 year old daughters. I had begun cursive instruction with my 10 year old but had not been consistent at all. We decided to learn two letters a day and moved along at a steady pace. While some of the letters were review for my oldest daughter, she was happy to get some extra practice. My eight year old daughter was excited to learn cursive and picked up very quickly on the different strokes. It was not uncommon to find them practicing cursive in between other subjects and I usually had to make them stop. They also loved turning the newly learned cursive letters into pictures. You just can’t stop the creative juices, right?

I also used this with my 6 year old daughter. I wasn’t sure if I was going to or not but she showed definite interest so I decided to run with it. She did not work at the same pace as her older sisters. We did about one letter every few days and it seemed a good pace for her. She did well and has enjoyed showing her dad the progress she is making.

In a more informal way, I also used Cursive with my 12 year old son. Like my 10 year old daughter, some cursive instruction had been given but never with consistency. Due to his scheduling in and out of the home, he worked independently with the workbook. Due to ease of use, this worked very well for him.

Our Thoughts on Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive

We found it to be simple to add to our day, effective in its instruction and practice, as well as enjoyable for the children. Their penmanship looked great without excessive practice and they could quickly recall the different strokes and such needed for the letters.

In the beginning, we used the tactile cards but found that they were not really necessary for the children. I kept the cards available for my younger one in case she wanted to practice on her own. I can also see them being beneficial for my younger ones when they begin to learn. However, it was not a necessary resource for my older children.

Surprisingly, my girls also preferred using our regular, unlined dry erase boards for practice. For them the lines on the student whiteboard were too large for them to write comfortably. Even my six year old daughter preferred using our unlined dry erase boards.

I chose to use the student workbook as my teacher guide/student reference and printed off the handwriting sheets from the resource section. This way I was able to give each child the sizing of lines they needed along with the style they preferred. We found that the shaded lines practice sheet worked the best for us.

Overall, we have loved this program. It has worked well for a variety of ages and abilities. It has been enjoyable and easy for the children to add to their day. I love seeing the beautiful penmanship!

Purchasing and Pricing –

The Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive Complete Set is available for $65.00. This includes the student workbook, student whiteboard, tactile cards, and reference chart.

For a family on a tight budget, $65 for a handwriting course is a bit steep. The complete set would not make the budget cut in our family. However, as you can see from how we used the program, adjustments can be made to make this course affordable. If you have a tight budget, you could easily purchase just the student workbook. With multiple students, you could opt to purchase the workbook or reference chart and utilize the free printable practice sheets.

While handwriting seems to be an easy, do-it-youself subject, for us it just wasn’t getting done.Having Rhythm of Handwriting helped us to keep focused and moving ahead. I would definitely recommend it to others.

Other Crew Members reviewed Rhythm of Handwriting (cursive or manuscript), the Essentials program, and Foundations. Take a moment and see what others have to say.

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Logic of English ~ TOS Review

*This blog post contains a product review*

Recently I began searching for a resource that would help one of my children gain a better grasp of spelling and also incorporate a phonics review.  After researching several options, I was beginning to become slightly frustrated and was planning to pull together various items to create what I wanted. Then the Essentials program from Logic of English became available for review. Designed for ages five to adult and utilizing multi-sensory activities, I was intrigued with the possibilities. The past several weeks have been spent learning how logical English is with two of my children: Lydia (10) and Hannah (7). I’d love to tell you all about it because it has become a favorite resource in our home.

Logic of English Essentials utilizes several different components to create a complete, engaging and intensive course that covers spelling, grammar, phonetics and vocabulary development. Written in a way that communicates simply but effectively, it can easily be used from emergent readers to an older student or adult who needs review or remediation.

For this review, we received a Logic of English Essentials bundle consisting of the following:  Essentials Teachers Manual (hardbound), Student Manuscript Workbook (softbound; cursive edition available), Phonogram & Spelling Game Book, Phonogram Flashcards, Spelling Rule Flashcards and two decks of Phonogram Game Cards (one manuscript/one cursive).

How do these components work together in Logic of English Essentials?

Essentials Teachers Manual begins with a scope and sequence, keys & symbols and materials/supplements list. Then there is an extensive introduction section that gives suggested schedules for the various needs of students. How you would pace this program for an emergent reader is a bit different in the pacing of a older student who is struggling with spelling. As you begin the lessons, you will soon see where adjustments might be needed and Essentials offers much flexibility.

Others topics in the introductions include: phonemic awareness, the three main parts of the lesson and teacher resources (list of spelling and grammar rules for quick reference). And then the lessons begin!

The lessons are quite simple in their structure and you will get a feel for the flow very quickly. Each lesson begins with a list of materials needed. Phonograms are the first part of the lesson and you review or introduce phonograms utilizing the Phonogram Flashcards. A game is often recommended to help reinforce the phonograms. Spelling is then introduce through some discovery activities and your student will learn a new spelling rule. Part two is a spelling list. However, referring back to activities from the introduction section, your student does more than just spell a list of words. They are learning how to break down words and recognize the phonograms and match them with the spelling rules so that English becomes logical. For example, after completing the spelling list, you student will go back to the word duck. They will underline the “ck” that makes the /k/ sound. Why? Because “ck” represents the /k/ sound in words with a short vowel sound. Part Three of the lesson is grammar. Grammar rules are learned and parts of speech. Using the spelling list, students takes those words and apply the grammar rules to them. Simple dictation and composition activities are used in the grammar portion. The lessons also are scripted so you don’t have to worry about how to explain the rules and teaching points. The script provided is clear, concise and complete.

Phonogram Flashcards–  This packet includes flashcards for the 74 basic phonograms and are used in each lesson of Essentials. Well made, sturdy 4 x 6 cards. The phonogram is given on the front with sounds and examples listed on the back.

Logic of English Essentials Workbook – This softbound book provides a convenient location for your student’s written work. It can be purchased in manuscript or cursive. Black and white presentation with no distracting graphics. It is a very basic “fill in the blank” type of workbook that compliments the activities in the teacher’s manual.

Phonogram & Spelling Game Book provides over 70 games to reinforce what is being learned each day. Games like Dragon, Speed and Snatch the Match require Phonogram Game Cards. Other games such as Eraser Race and Blind Spelling need a dry erase board and markers along with the spelling list. For your hands on and visual learners, this resource is so helpful.

Phonogram Game Cards come in cursive,  manuscript or bookface. At least two decks would be beneficial as several of the games require at least two decks. They are sturdy, thick, laminated cards that will hold up to much play.

Spelling Rule Flashcards are 4 x 6 cards that list the spelling rule and examples of the rule –  perfect for drill practice or a visual aid during the lesson. Spelling rule cards have a green top border as a visual clue that relates it to spelling.

How did Logic of English Essentials work in our home?

I was initially looking for a program for my 10 year old daughter who was actually a decent reader. However, new or big words caused her to hesitate and stumble while reading. She also was a terrible speller. Once I looked over the program, I decided to incorporate my 7 year old daughter as well so she could be exposed to the rules of grammar and spelling.. During the morning, I pull the two of them together and we do a portion of the lesson. We have fallen into a natural rhythm of completing a lesson in three to four days.

After the first day or two, my ten year old decided she didn’t want to use the workbook. Both girls are using composition books and dry erase boards for their lessons. We generally don’t use workbooks and I think it just felt odd to Lydia. For activities that require them to underline or correct portions, I write them on our large dry erase board or they copy them into their notebooks and then make corrections. It has been working fine.

Even though we are only a few weeks into this program, I can already see a confidence building in my struggling reader. She is seeing connections between the words and the rules. Drilling and reviewing of the phonograms has been a great refresher since the time period of her learning to read was a stressful one in our home.

One of our favorite parts of Essentials has been learning that vowels sing and consonants do not. We shared many giggles on that day. The girls are also enjoying the phonogram and spelling games. Snatch and Dragon are favorites. Here is the neat thing; even my younger non-readers love to join in for a round of memory. My five year old and fourteen year old have joined in for a game of Snatch. It is just too fun not to and they are learning without even knowing it.

As we progress further into Essentials, I have no doubt that I will be using this with my five year old when she is ready. I also regret not having my older students use it as a source of review. If not the whole lessons, the spelling portions would be beneficial to all.

When I tell my girls it is time for school, they ask to do Logic of English.. If our schedule gets thrown off and we miss a day, they are a bit bummed. Grammar and spelling are not drudgery. The enjoy Logic of English. It isn’t just the few games we have played but it is the complete package. What they are reading is finally making sense and they enjoy understanding. Even I have learned a few things as well!

I also appreciate how Logic of English incorporates multi-sensory learning without crossing the line into over-stimulation or annoyance. I have never been a fan of companies that turn learning into a game show. My girls being able to see, write and hear all aspects of the language has been a benefit but it all comes without the “busy distractions”.

The Logic of English has a wealth of information online from videos to free downloads. Very helpful!

Pricing and Purchasing Information:

  • Logic of English Essentials Teacher’s Manual $95.00
  • Logic of English Student Workbook (Manuscript) – $25.00
  • Phonogram Flashcards$18.00
  • Spelling Rule Flashcards$15.00
  • Phonogram & Spelling Game Book$15.00
  • Phonogram Game Cards$10.00

There is a complete package bundle option available as well.

How to make Logic of English cost effective?

Can we really put a price on helping our children learn to communicate and understand? Theoretically, no. However, for many homeschool families Logic of English pricing may seem high. The teacher’s manual is non-consumable so you can use it again and again with multiple children. If you have budget restrictions, flashcards and game cards could easily be made at home. While the workbook is nice to have, the program can be used without it. If you have a child who is struggling in reading or spelling, I recommend taking a look at Logic of English Essentials. I have been greatly impressed with this program.

This video does a excellent job of showing the importance of a systematic approach to English:

Logic of English also has a Foundations course that teaches reading and has a penmanship course called Rhythm of Handwriting. Crew members reviewed Essentials and these other program as well. Take a moment and read more reviews.